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Elderberry

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S):- Sambucus canadensis L. (American elder) and sambucus nigra L. (European elder).
Family: Caprifoliaceae

COMMON NAME(S):- elder, common elder, elderberry, sambucus

The American elder (canadensis) , also known as Elderberry, is small tree that grows to 12 feet and is native to North America. The European elder (nigra) grows to 30 feet, is found throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, and has been naturalized in the United States. The tree has been called "the medicine chest of the common people. Many people use Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) as an ingredient in the preparation of wines, pies, jellies, and an assortment of food products. Elderberry leaves were traditionally used for pain relief and applied to wounds to promote healing.

History

Elder flowers and berries have been used in traditional medicine and as flavorings for centuries. In folk medicine, the flowers have been used for their diuretic and laxative properties and as an astringent. Various parts of the elder have been used to treat cancer and a host of other unrelated disorders. Distilled elder flower water has been used as a scented vehicle for topical preparations and extracts are used to flavor foods, including alcoholic beverages. The fruits have been used to prepare elderberry wine.

Botany :- The American elder is a tall shrub that grows to 3.6 m. It is native to North America. The European elder grows to approximately 9 m, and while native to Europe, it has been naturalized to the US.

Uses of Elderberry

Elder flowers and berries have been used in flavorings and are considered to have diuretic and laxative properties.

As a tea and cordial to sooth sore throats, speed recovery from cold and flu and relieve respiratory distress. Cooked and used in jams and conserves.

Side Effects of Elderberry

There have been reports of toxicity, particularly involving the stems and leaves.

Dosage

A syrup of black elderberry extract (1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon [5-15 ml] for children, 2 teaspoons-2 tablespoons [10-30 ml] for adults) can be taken twice daily. A tea made from 1/2-1 teaspoon (3-5 grams) of the dried flowers steeped in 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes may be drunk three times per day.

Toxicology

Because of the cyanogenic potential of the leaves, extracts of the plant may be used in foods, provided HCN levels do not exceed 25 ppm in the flavor. Toxicity in children who used pea shooters made from elderberry stems has been reported.

One report of severe illness following the ingestion of juice prepared from elderberries has been recorded by the Centers for Disease Control. People attending a picnic, who ingested several glasses of juice made from berries picked the day before, reported nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, numbness, and stupor. One person who consumed 5 glasses of juice was hospitalized for stupor. All recovered. Although cyanide levels were not reported, there remains the possibility of cyanide-induced toxicity in these patients. While elderberries are safe to consume, particularly when cooked (uncooked berries may produce nausea), leaves and stems should not be crushed when making elderberry juice.

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